By PETE YOUNG
© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 30, 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- For Admiral Farragut coach Mike Jalazo, it is the morning after.
The Blue Jackets were destiny's darlings in 2000. Now, Jalazo must rebuild as the majority of the top players from the 11-0 dream season graduated.
Five of those are playing in college, and a sixth, standout punter/kicker Brian Jack, is trying to walk-on at Florida. Jalazo is cobbling together an encore from replacement parts as the Blue Jackets rejoin district play this season.
Jalazo is optimistic, however, that he's not rebuilding, but reloading. The junior varsity went 5-1 last season. There are eight players new to the school, and there are 35 players on the roster, including several returning starters.
"We've never won a district in school history. Winning the district, that's our goal," Jalazo said. "We feel we have the talent to compete, but we're not going to catch anyone by surprise this year."
THROUGH THE AIR: Junior Marshall Hampton threw about six times a game last year, but that number could double.
Junior James Coffman and senior Chaz Allen are the top wideouts. Junior James Lowe, who also could play running back, is one tight end. And sophomore Nick Smarowsky, whom Jalazo described as the "camp surprise," is the other tight end.
Hampton is backed up by Grant Watkins, a newcomer from Texas who has been impressive.
ON THE GROUND: The ground game still is Farragut's bread and butter even though the ultra-productive trio of Jon Hunt, Wes Erbe and Josh Twiselton now plays in college.
Candidates to replace them include sophomore Alex DeSeta, junior Jon Whitehead, a fleet transfer from Osceola, junior Brett Cuciniello and freshman Cameron Young.
Up front, Central Florida-signee Adam Butcher will be missed, but there's plenty of beef. Senior John Hirsch (6-foot, 215 pounds) was solid last season. And two newcomers, juniors Hunter Marner from Alabama and Dan Calkin from Ocala, have stepped right in.
DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE! Andres "The Condor" Kirchman, a 6-5, 245-pound senior defensive end, played football for the first time last fall.
Despite his inexperience, Kirchman, a native of the Cayman Islands, has numerous Division I schools recruiting him. He ran a 4.7 40 at a combine this spring.
"You don't get kids that big with that kind of speed," Jalazo said.
Senior Andrew George (6-1, 260) and junior Nick Smoak (6-1, 270) will be tough to push around in the trenches.
Lowe, DeSeta and Cuciniello, Marner and Hirsch are the top candidates at linebacker, and Whitehead and Brown Charite lead the secondary.
JUST FOR KICKS: Jalazo said John Stevenson has a very strong leg and is becoming more accurate. The punter is Jon Lycan.
COACH: Mike Jalazo, third season (14-6)
ASSISTANTS: Calvin Brown, Bill Capanna, Mike Castine, Gerry Chavez, Steve Clark, Wes Dennis, Mark Hampton, Bo Petruzzi, Bo Vespi
COLORS: Gold and Navy blue
STADIUM: Al Ross Field, 501 Park St. N, St. Petersburg
CLASS: A, District 8
PLAYOFF HISTORY: None